for this game

Caps fall to Blues in Hunter's debut

Nov 30, 2011 - 1:51 PM
Washington, DC (Sports Network) - Even a new head coach wasn't able to help the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night.

The Capitals started the season with seven straight wins, but losses in six of their prior eight games saw the team fall to a mark of 12-9-1, prompting a coaching change. Bruce Boudreau was fired on Monday after four years on the bench.

Hometown favorite Dale Hunter has taken over, but the offensive woes continued for Washington in a 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday.

"The guys worked hard tonight and played good defensively," said Hunter. "We had our chances there in the third period but weren't able to cash in on them. There's still work to do here, but we'll get it going."

Nicklas Backstrom scored the lone goal while Tomas Vokoun was touched for both goals on 30 shots for the Capitals, who have been held to one goal in five of their past nine games.

The Blues, meanwhile, were also in the coach-firing business earlier in November. The team replaced Davis Payne with veteran head coach Ken Hitchcock after a 6-7-0 start to the season.

Since then, the Blues have gone 8-1-2. Matt D'Agostini and T.J. Oshie each lit the lamp Tuesday while Jaroslav Halak made 18 saves to give the team its fourth straight win.

"We played a heck of a hockey game tonight," said Hitchcock. "We created a lot of scoring chances and we didn't give up anything in two periods. We're starting to dial in to playing the game, playing the way we need to win hockey games. It's a good feeling."

Washington held the initial lead in the game as the team scored halfway through the first period.

Skating with the puck through neutral ice, Alex Ovechkin gained the St. Louis zone through the right side and saw a pass to the slot for a trailing Backstrom, who got enough on a one-timer to get it past Halak.

St. Louis, though, tied the game with 4:12 to play in the first as Alex Steen fired a shot off the crossbar and Oshie tucked in the rebound from the left side.

At the 8:54 mark of the second, St. Louis took the lead. D'Agostini blasted a shot on net from the right circle that was stopped, but the rebound was pushed down by Patrik Berglund and D'Agostini used a wraparound from the left side for a 2-1 advantage.

Halak didn't have too much to do in the third period, needing only to make eight saves to hold the lead.

Game Notes

Washington had won three of four against St. Louis coming into the game...Hunter had been the coach of the London Knights in the Ontario Hockey League and posted a record of 451-189-23-24, the highest winning percentage for a coach in league history...St. Louis improved to 6-6-1 as the guest this season with its third straight road win...The Capitals named former defenseman Jim Johnson as an assistant coach on Tuesday.